National exposure for young guns

STRUTTING THEIR STUFF; Far North Coast baseball players, Kodey Welford, 13, in front, and back, from left, Dean Gillespie,17, Corey Welford,17, and Sam Martin,15, were among a contingent just returned from the National Youth Championships.
STRUTTING THEIR STUFF; Far North Coast baseball players, Kodey Welford, 13, in front, and back, from left, Dean Gillespie,17, Corey Welford,17, and Sam Martin,15, were among a contingent just returned from the National Youth Championships. Jacklyn Wagner

GUN Far North Coast players may have taken the next steps to baseball stardom after rubbing shoulders with the best young Australian talent.

Michael Gahan, Sam Martin, Kodey and Corey Welford, Nathan Cunningham, Lewis Johnson, Brodie Groth and Dean Gillespie were all part of age group state squads at the recent National Youth Championships.

The group passed through an earlier tough selection process to star at the events, which featured several matches between the country's state and territories.

Paul Martin, president of Lismore's Marist Brothers Club which provided six of the FNC contingent, said their presence showed the possibilities for the region's future talent.

"Lismore has supplied many representative players," he said. "It is a fabulous grounding (area) for baseball.

"There were scouts from top Australian and American leagues at this event, not necessarily looking at our players, but this shows the level of talent on display (at the tournament).

"It is an extremely rewarding opportunity and the reality is that from playing baseball in Lismore you can become a professional baseball player."

The competitions were contested in Canberra and Geelong and featured state teams in the under-14, under-16 and under-18 age groups.

Promising pitcher Michael Gahan, who is a member of the top Brisbane Bandits club, teamed up with Nathan Cunningham, Lewis Johnson and Dean Gillespie in the Queensland under-18 squad.

Despite their presence, Queensland could only win five out of its 12 matches at the tournament, which was captured by New South Wales.

Brodie Groth and Corey Welford were both in the ACT's under-18 team, which only won one of its dozen matches.

The ACT takes players from other states to its small pool.

Sam Martin was in Queensland's under-16 side, while Kodey Welford lined up in the same state's under-14 team.

Western Australia captured the under-14 and under-16 events.

Another Far North Coast representative, Marist Brothers' Ethan Elliott, was in the Queensland under-14 shadow squad.

Martin said all the boys had done well and he was additionally pleased his club was providing so many talented young baseballers.

"It is fabulous," he said. "It makes me proud as club president to see the young guys coming through.

"To have six players coming from our club (for these championships) is unique.

"They have got the benefit of having so many professional players in our club."

Topics:  baseball

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